Why Shadow of the Colossus is Overrated

Warning: This opinion piece contains detailed narrative spoilers but few mechanical spoilers for Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, Prince of Persia (2008) and God of War.

To celebrate the release of The ICO & Shadow of the Colossus Collection, I thought I would proclaim this: Shadow of the Colossus is overrated.

Before I detail my blasphemous opinion, let me briefly overview the parts that likely led to various people declaring SotC a “masterpiece”. The aesthetics and landscapes wonderfully establish an atmosphere and setting of bleakness, of a world locked away and left to be slowly consumed by the elements. Ruins imply death and decay and what life there is treats you as if you were a pariah. The environment is almost hostile in its expansiveness, as if it’s passive-aggressively suggesting that you too will get lost and be engulfed like everything else in this world. Fortunately, exploration turns out to be rewarding nonetheless due to the world feeling mysterious and laced with history. The minimalistic story is balanced in such a way that it implies a lot but still gives you enough information to let your imagination fill in the blanks. And, excluding two bosses that kind of phone it in, the combat doesn’t waste your time with generic enemies. Instead, it consists entirely of truly large-scale encounters that beautifully blend boss battles with platforming and action-adventure in ways that many other games do not. Judged solely on these merits, I can understand why people who recognize and appreciate this atypical execution of typical game features love the game so much.

But those are just the overarching concepts, the ideas meant to thread together a specific authorial vision and player experience. If any one element of the whole fails in execution, then the entire experience falls apart.

SotC‘s story is what caused the experience to fall apart for me. For those not in the know, it’s a deconstruction of a prototypical “Damsel in Distress” plot: You know almost nothing about Mono, the girl you set out to save, yet Wander (the protagonist) is determined to “go to the ends of the Earth” to save her regardless of the consequences. The subversion to the archetypal heroic antics of such a plot sets in when it becomes clear that Wander’s motivation, rather than leading to the typical string of successes where the protagonist ultimately saves the day and his love interest by blowing up the big bad’s doom fortress, is actually obsessive to the point where it facilitates his own self-destruction. (And, if Wander is indeed in love with Mono, then then combing it with the lack of backstory can also make Shadow of the Colossus a deconstruction of the Dulcinea effect.) SotC set out to tell a touching story of a tragic hero on a desperate and misguided quest to save the one he loves, but I think it failed. Conceptually, its themes are fine and easy to sympathize with, but I think the execution of those concepts failed because Wander’s story was not presented in a way that made me care. (More on that in a bit.)

Unsympathetic characters can work in literature or film because the distance you have between the character and yourself allows you to easily root both for and against them. This is not true for games. Whether you’re a being so pure that flowers sprout where you step and entire populaces pray for your success or an embodiment rage and vengeance that is set on killing an entire pissed off pantheon, there is at least one constant for writing a good video game protagonist: The player must either sympathize with the character’s actions, or they must pity them.

The element of interactivity (and specifically player agency) is what establishes this difference from other media. And I think it was exactly this facet of the video game medium that clashed with the story the developers wanted to tell. Why? Because Shadow of the Colossus is a game about taking orders. Orders from Wander about what he wants to accomplish. Orders from Dormin about want it wants in order to facilitate what Wander wants. And, most damningly, orders from the developer about how you should play their game.

I’d equate my experience playing SotC with performing a variant of the Milgram experiment where I was “the teacher”, Wander was “the learner”, and developer Team ICO (by way of the game) was “the experimenter”. After “administering a few shocks” by downing the first couple of Colossi, I was worried about the toll it was taking on Wander. I didn’t have access to Wander’s thoughts, whatever they might be, so I had no idea what the emotional damage was. However, the malicious threads of energy emanating from defeated Colossi did cause me to pause to consider Wander’s physical health. “Should I go on? Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all,” I thought. “Please continue,” the game responded.

After a couple more Colossi, it was evident that an additional ominous and shadowy figure appeared every single time Wander defeated another boss. “Who are those people anyway? The spirits of the Colossi? And should I be worried about them? They don’t exactly look happy to see Wander,” I wondered aloud. “The experiment requires that you continue,” the game responded.

After yet another batch of Colossi, the physical toll of it all on Wander became much clearer; those threads of energy didn’t just seem malicious, they actually were malicious. Slowly but surely, they were corrupting Wander’s body and making it doubtful that he’d survive whatever was happening to him. The game saw my towering doubts and told me: “It is absolutely essential that you continue.”

And continue I did. I thought there might be some kind of emotional or educational pay-off to what I was enduring. After the last Colossus was slain, after Dormin rose and fell, and after Wander got his wish but couldn’t really go on to enjoy it, I finally realized something. The game didn’t explicitly tell me this, and I was free to quit any time I wished, but only by the end of the game did I truly grasp the undercurrent to the entire story: “You have no other choice, you must go on.”

In SotC, I can play as a non-idiot to the best of my abilities, but I can never cure Wander of his idiotic short-sightedness. I did not want to be submissive to this game’s demands, but because Team ICO provided no flexibility in their story, it caused constant cognitive dissonance and frustration whenever I perceived idiotic player character behavior that was beyond my control. SotC is not the only game where this happens, but it’s one of the most damnable because, as aforementioned, the story and the gameplay are tightly intertwined, which makes Wander’s idiocy far more poisonous here than in other games.

You might be thinking: “By golly, if you want choice and lots of player agency, just go play some highly customizable RPG!” A valid suggestion, but I think player agency can still exist in sufficient quantities in story-driven and highly linear games like Shadow of the Colossus. I’ll go into this more in a follow-up piece, but for now I’d like to bring up the 2008 reboot of Prince of Persia. PoP, while more non-linear than SotC, is still effectively a linear story but just broken up into little homogenous pieces. Whatever choices you make throughout are inconsequential since, like a jigsaw puzzle, you’ll always piece together roughly the same result in the end regardless of what your actual progression to that end was. However, in the very last moments of the game, The Prince (your player character) is provided with a real and important choice. He can acquiesce to Elika’s wishes, or he can defy them. Defiance is backed up by a cutscene, an Achievement / Trophy, and an Epilogue DLC, clearly making it the canonical option. However, I much prefer the other choice. Why? Because it lets The Prince actually complete a character arc. For the entire game he’s this smart-mouthed, somewhat egotistical and self-serving jerk, but if he lets Elika get her wish, he makes this huge decision that’s counter to his initial behavior and that represents that he is now willing to defer judgment to others. The canonical choice doesn’t have any of this and just corroborates that The Prince is selfish, doesn’t care about others’ views, and didn’t learn a damn thing. Shadow of the Colossus is the same way, except there isn’t any choice whatsoever. Instead, you’re just railroaded into never escaping Wander’s self-destructive tragedy. It doesn’t matter whether the choice I wanted to make is canonical, but it does matter that I never had a choice to begin with. (Also, yes, I realize the anachronism in referencing PoP as it came out some years after SotC. This didn’t preclude Team ICO of thinking of something similar or better though.)

What really got me steamed up though, is that SotC is wont to chastise the player for making “bad choices” that lead to self-destruction despite the game’s minimalism working against itself here. It criticizes us for unleashing an evil being for the sake of personal gain without making it clear why Dormin is evil or why it deserved to be banished. For all we know, Emon et al may be puritanical zealots who trapped Dormin due to disapproving of its power to upset what they believed was the “natural order” of things. Who’s to say that the deal between Dormin and Wander isn’t just quid pro quo between two oppressed entities rather than the implied Faustian pact with the devil? The vagueness of the story makes this alternative interpretation easy to conclude, deftly undermining the melancholic and tragic tone of the game and making the authorial voice seem patronizing.

Regardless of which is the “correct” interpretation, when your actions are highly limited and carefully plotted in advance, how can you feel guilty for “evil” behavior when you have no say in the matter (other than turning off the console in disgust)? One can’t possibly expect the player to be responsible for events when they have no agency. And since the chastising via deconstruction is part of the game’s raison d’être, hopefully you can understand why I was so underwhelmed.

I think it’s also worth mentioning Kratos as he was characterized in God of War I. He isn’t a hero (by any stretch of the imagination), but he’s still manages to be a very tragic and pitiable figure. And I think he’s a much better character than Wander. First off, I appreciated that it was clear that Kratos was rude, crude, lewd from the get-go. God of War sets the tone immediately and doesn’t do any piddling about with the nature of the player character like what happened with Wander in SotC. To be fair, deconstruction without parody or mountains of hyperbole practically demands subversion of expectation, but I see that as an argument against how the characterization of Wander was dealt with in SotC. Secondly, Kratos’ actions partially contribute the failure of his own goals, which heightens the tragedy of his situation and makes him pitiable despite being detestable for his wanton behavior. By contrast, though the end result was probably not what he anticipated, Wander ultimately succeeds in his goal of rescuing Mono, and the comparatively fewer hardships he goes through made it seem as if Team ICO wanted us to root for Wander despite vilifying him and the player’s “complicity” in his story. Thirdly, the tragedy of Kratos culminates when he attempts suicide in an effort to escape the hopeless life that he and the Gods have conspired to write. As much as I may abhor Kratos’ violence and machismo, I can’t be help but feel genuinely sad when he and I both reflect upon what a trainwreck he is. I’m always most moved when media takes a seemingly unlikeable character and uses context to turn them into something that the audience can sympathize with, even if for but a moment. Shadow of the Colossus has none of this since Wander starts and ends a flat character, never fazed by his physical corruption, never pausing to reflect on the ruination he creates, and certainly never wavering from his idealized and self-justified goal. To me, Wander is a poster boy for the claim that “an unexamined life is not worth living.”

Mono isn’t much better, as she serves as little more than literal dead weight. People who liked the companion cube of the Portal series or the generic doomed hometowns / family members / whatever lazily tacked on in order to “characterize” protagonists of various other games may like Mono, but I get disgruntled whenever any given game declares that a player character adores something without giving much (if any) reason for the player behind that character to be sympathetic to these sentiments.

Whether Wander is trying to save his lover, his sister, or a VIP he failed to protect during guard duty doesn’t matter. How Mono died and why she is cursed doesn’t matter. How Wander acquired his sword, his bow, and his horse doesn’t really matter. What does matter is why I should care about the portion of the story that I get to experience once I pick up the controller and start playing the game. I fully understand what the characters’ motivations are and what they want to get out of the story, but what do I, the player, get out of the story?

I find this particularly problematic because, for stuff like various games in the Mario series (or, if you want something more accurate but also more obscure, then think of the Viewtiful Joe series), it’s typically easy to separate the gameplay and the story and enjoy one aspect if you’re not fond of the other. Though Mario’s usual goal of saving Princess Peach is effectively the same as Wander’s goal of saving Mono, Mario’s goal is not inextricably intertwined with the gameplay his series features. Mega Man and Kirby and Samus Aran can all perform the actions of running, jumping and shooting projectiles without any connection to the stories and worlds of the Mario universe. But killing the colossi in SotC can not be separated from the story; there are no optional encounters. This is why my distaste for some parts of the narrative cripples any enjoyment I might try to extract from the game. Disliking the story changes everything; it causes the expansive environments to feel empty, the collectibles to feel even more pointless, and the atmosphere to shift from bleak and hauntingly beautiful to dreary and utterly depressing. Since the experience is contingent on perceiving all aspects of the game as working in harmony, Shadow of the Colossus creates, moreso than many other games, a polarizing “love it or hate it” divide.

You may think that I’m frustrated because I’m railing against a norm and hoping for a higher standard for game stories. This is true, but a large chunk of my frustration comes from recognizing that developer Team ICO already solved this problem with a previous game of theirs and bewilderingly did not carry this solution forward to SotC. That previous game, known as ICO, endeavored to examine the much-loathed escort mission and turn it in something worthwhile and integral to an experience instead of its all-too-common application as filler for a game focused on something entirely different. And, to their credit, Team ICO did a pretty good job. Rather than hitting the pitfall of having a nigh-invulnerable badass or an insufferable burden for half (or the entirety) of the two-person team, both Ico and Yorda have notable strengths and weaknesses. (Yorda’s strengths are generally more artificial, and I’d add more cynical from a design perspective as well, than Ico’s for gameplay purposes, but that’s not relevant for the point I’m trying to put forth here.) Alone and divided, Ico and Yorda would be nearly helpless, but with their powers combined, they have a significantly improved chance of surviving and escaping their fates. Beyond that though, I loved the burgeoning sense of the companionship between Ico and Yorda as well as the various things included to humanize them. Dragging Yorda around could indeed be burdensome, but she was still helpful and autonomous occasionally and it was evident that any instances of resistance were borne out of strong feelings of trepidation. Ico was great too; he’s barely able to help himself, yet he leaps to the rescue and valiantly defends Yorda for as long as he can. The story of Ico and Yorda and the relationship that formed over the course of the game was heartwarming for its portrayal of childlike compassion and innocence. The story of SotC initially seems like it will cover similar themes, but it takes a much more cynical approach that ultimately twists those themes into stubbornness and horrible delusion for everyone involved.

I’m not saying that Team ICO should’ve done another game-spanning escort mission or something like what was done with The Prince and Elika in Prince of Persia, but I am saying that there is a huge disparity between how much Wander cares about Mono and how much the player cares about her. This is a core of the story and, as I’ve already mentioned regarding how intertwined everything is, my distaste for this greatly sours my opinion of SotC.

Interestingly, a bit of that ICO sense of companionship can still be found in the relationship between Wander and his horse Agro. She is absolutely vital for traversing the huge surroundings and dealing with some of the bosses, and when combined with her steadfast loyalty, she becomes a very endearing character in her own right. Wander even has the ability to pet Agro for no other reason than to express gratitude. In fact, I found Agro so endearing that, when she falls with a collapsing bridge and (temporarily) seems dead, I genuinely felt mournful (a sentiment that is not evoked often from video games). It also (again, temporarily) cemented my hate for the character of Wander since it appeared as if his obsessive quest killed his one undoubtedly faithful and lovable companion in order to save a girl I didn’t care one iota about.

I’m also of the opinion that deconstruction by itself is not always sufficient. Let me use an analogy. Imagine you are in a fairly comfortable house. This house has some flaws and imperfections, but its structure fits the norm of the houses that surround yours and that you are familiar with. One fateful day, a man with a wrecking ball comes to demolish your house. As he begins to create gaping holes in your walls, you demand to know what he’s doing. The deconstructor replies by saying that he wants to make you aware that your house is made out of rubbish and that you should feel bad for blissfully ignoring this blatantly obvious fact. If he’s persuasive, you’ll listen until the end. Once the house is in shambles, he sits with a self-satisfied look on his face, enjoying his handiwork for a moment. Then, he begins to drive off. “Wait!” you exclaim. “Where are you going?” “I’m done,” he responds. “What about my house?” you ask incredulously. “You did a great job explaining what was wrong with it, but I assumed you were going to tell me how to build a better house after you were done tearing down my old one.” Upon hearing this, the deconstructor stares blankly at you. You glare at him expectantly, but he can only muster “No, sorry, I just deconstruct.”

Deconstruction without reconstruction is the equivalent of cognitive blue-balling. If you were left with aporia (as the Milgram experiment analogy might suggest), then perhaps the game would have taught you something. But how can you learn from your mistakes if Shadow of the Colossus doesn’t give you the choice to repent or explore alternatives? When choice is irrelevant, the weight of the moral implications of your actions is nonexistent. You can legitimately claim you were just mechanically following orders.

If the lack of reconstruction won’t advise us in design, can any other lessons can be learned from this game? Is the lesson that love can become obsessive and dangerous? We already know that from stalkers and sociopathic relationships. Is the lesson that action without introspection can lead to self-destruction? Who hasn’t learned that yet? Is it that someone who is better equipped and more organized than you will eventually ruin your plans? Well, that one’s a real keeper.

There are other things I could complain about, like the collectible sidequests and the Time Attack mode diluting the story in an effort to make SotC more “game-like” than ICO, but the things I’ve detailed above are much more significant. They are the big issues that eclipse the smaller positive and negative aspects of the game. The bottom line is, unlike many games, Shadow of the Colossus is not a story in which I and the developer worked together to craft a desired experience. Rather, I felt it was a story imposed, a story contrived in such a way that the developer gets to deliver a specific message regardless of whether the player wants to hear it and whether it even applies. SotC just beats you with “the point” and continues to do so long after it is necessary. Players complicit in the developer’s desires probably think SotC is great for its single-minded exploration of particular concepts, but I wasn’t convinced that I had any role or, more importantly, responsibility in the tale. Wander’s struggles were not my own, and thus his suffering and success were not my own. It’s a game worth playing up until you realize what Wander’s quest ultimately entails, but thereafter the game has nothing to offer you beyond detailing Wander’s slow death spiral and showcasing the hollow spectacle of big boss battles.

If you’re satisfied with that, then more power to you, but I firmly believe Shadow of the Colossus does not deserve its God-King status among art games. If you have yet to take the plunge and make up your own mind, consider this a stern warning that it may not turn out all it’s cracked up to be.


  1. Jacques

    You think too much. That’s really all there is to it. It’s isn’t about all that psychological crap or stereotypes.

    You save the girl.

    It will cost you, but that’s all you need to know. You will save Mono. Doesn’t matter why, doesn’t matter how.

    The lack of anything more than that in the game means it’s up to you to speculate. But it doesn’t matter. No matter what the reason you come up with, no matter how cliche it may or may not be, no matter how you try to deconstruct a story that’s barely there,

    You save the girl.

    That’s all.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      That’s a fine way to look at the story too, though I wonder what makes SotC so special then since that’d mean the game is little more than a string of boss battles and some nice environments.

      • Jacques

        Presentation. There are games that present you with some poorly executed semblance of a story, when that’s really just a cover for the fact that the game is nothing but boss battles. There are games where the story is really well-done and the bosses fit perfectly into that… or not at all.

        And then there’s SotC. The focus of the game, to me, is more on your actions than anything else. The story, the background, so much of it lies there. How your actions are presented- little more than a boy facing such stone behemoths, for example- can tell you how much Mono means to him, OR how strongly he believes that he must bring her back. Or both. Ultimately, it’s left up to you to decide. I, personally, never did.

        I feel like what you’re doing is akin to analyzing the Mona Lisa’s smile. Sure, you could take into account all sorts of archetypes, and the artist’s previous works, as you try to figure it out. But it’s just as likely that it’s left up to your interpretation.

        Feel free to do as you have done, and look in-depth into what the game’s presented to you. But you may well be missing the forest for the trees on this one.

        • Ramunas Jakimavicius

          I find it strange that people (and you’re not the only one) automatically bring up other games and talk about how their stories were presented even worse. My point is not that SotC is somehow worse than some other games (plenty of video game stories are much worse), but rather that it doesn’t live up to the expectations common opinion has created for this game.

          I understand what Mono means to Wander and the extent that he is going to in order to save her. That understanding doesn’t change that I was given me little reason to care about Mono when there was no interaction with her and nearly zero backstory as well. It seems like players are supposed to feel sympathy by drawing upon their own experiences with relationships, but Mono could’ve been replaced with a bag of bricks and the end result would’ve been the same for what she meant to the player.

          I feel I saw the beautiful forest just fine (as indicated by the first paragraph past the first sentence of this piece), but eventually noticing a bunch of rotting trees made me think less of the forest.

        • Amar89

          There is

        • Amar89

          This game could have been much better,I agree,but after beating the game like 15 times and I can say you one thing: I never spent so much time on a console game! I explored almost every place on the map and found some hidden places too that havent been yet posted on youtube! Maybe you have noticed all that my english sux but who cares Im not perfect,its just like SOTC some part of it could have been better! The whole eastern section of the map was excluded,6 colossi were deleted ,the alternate ending wasnt finished,and still some people say that this is a masterpiece,that means something! And yes this game IS ART,why? because it was made from 2003-2005 and still it felt naturaly! If you take your time and explore the land you will see that every corner is diferent,there are no loading time while traveling across the huge map,and it looks like a movie while you are traveling,tell me another game that was released until this date that had theese specifics? You can go almost wherever you like but you cant escape from the land,from the thing that you are suposed to do! Its like real life you can do whatever you want but one day my friend we will all have to die! When we talk about the story,I think its almost perfect,why? well if everything would be explained into detail you would feel more confident during gameplay,also I think that with this knowledge you would feel less lonely and helpless! The key of its succes is its simplicity!
          greetings,sorry for my poor english and long post!

  2. juan

    Just that you spend hours knowing the game, write an article so detail and big, putting a lot of attention to the history, the characters and the philosophy of the game. It is a proof that the game is a classic. Mean full game never get a review like that. Thank you.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      I, like other fans of the game, actually (early on) had an overall positive impression for the environments and boss battles. (Also, I entered with goodwill towards the game since I liked that previous game ICO quite a bit.) But when I progress further in the game, started reading various interpretations of the game’s story, saw people calling it perfect and representative of “games as art”, and began seriously thinking about what it all could mean, my opinion began to diverge from the hivemind. Call it measuring the marigolds if you like, but I’d say it’s more that the flaws didn’t hit me until later when I started trying to piece everything together.

      My effort to detail the characters, philosophy, etc of the game was done so that this article wouldn’t seem uninformed and dismissive. It’s not meant to say that SotC is a classic, but rather that it is contentious due to having to extrapolate much from little.

  3. FlashMedallion

    >the undercurrent to the entire story: “You have no other choice, you must go on.”

    Seems a little to me like you’ve missed the wood for the trees. The main theme of the game is communicated through the minute-by-minute game-play itself; that’s why critics rave about it.

    The basic skills you need to defeat a Colossus involve holding on and letting go at the right times to recover your strength as you learn how to climb it. In fact, there’s basically only one action button in the game, which is used for hanging on to ledges, drawing the bow, and preparing a stab.

    The whole way through the game you practise these skills and have them tested – learn when to hold on, when to strategically let go, where the weak points are, then move on.

    This continues until the very end where plot stuff happens, and Wander finds himself being sucked into a vortex. This is a playable section, where you are climbing away from the vortex and towards Mono. Using all the skills you’ve learned in the game, it’s possible to actually keep this segment going forever. You can always resist the vortex, but you can never quite reach Mono. And this leads to the central theme running through the game.

    Wander wants Mono back for whatever reason, it’s not even that important why. The point is he will go to the ends of the earth to do it, sacrificing himself and who knows what else; he could go on forever and the game will go on forever until the player learns the message of the game, and that is learning when to let go.

    You’ve been trained in 16 epic battles, that require you to learn how to let go (the fundamental mechanic of the game is your skill in holding on or not holding on) and then you are given a never-ending challenge that the only way to move on from – to bring closure to the narrative, the game, the player and of course Wander – is to consciously acknowledge that it’s time to let go, and to go ahead and do it.

    Everyone who played the game would have struggled for a bit trying to get to the Mono, and I think that the moment when the player realises what the game is asking of them and actually puts down the controller and watches their avatar tumble to his doom is one of the profound moments that make people rave about this game. The player cannot complete the game without being acted upon by the game. Pretty heavy stuff.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      I appreciate your effort for that suggestion, but I don’t see that as the same as a conscious moral choice to let go of one’s obsession (which is a choice that I wanted to be presented with). To me, the ending sequence is more like: “You can hold on to this rope dangling over the edge of a cliff forever, or you can let go and give in to the inevitable.” It’s putting you in a situation where you can’t win, and asking whether you want to futilely resist until your strength gives out or to kill yourself to speed up the process of failure.

      edit: Oh, and if we’re going to go with your “letting go” theme, I’d counter by saying you only let go (or retreat) so you could come back stronger the next time. I think it’s a real stretch to say that theme carries forward into the ending sequence.

  4. Tempoz

    I think you’re right, in a sense. This IS very similar to the Milgram experiment. And like that experiment, it offers you an interesting moral choice. At any point, you can stop. Stopping is not pleasant. It does not FEEL like what you should do. And unlike the Milgram experiment, the game will always be there for you to come back and hit the next button.
    But this is maybe the only interesting, realistic moral choice a game has ever offered me. You claim that you were forced to continue killing the Colossi, that you acted on insufficient information, and thus you should not be blamed. This is false. Even finding the Colossi isn’t simple, killing them is harder still. It would be MUCH EASIER to never kill them. And yet you did, despite noticing that Wander was being corrupted, and that something bad was being released into the world.
    You complain that you were never given a choice, but in reality, you were given the choice to stop or continue. And stopping, despite being right, felt unsatisfying, unheroic. But that did not stop it being the right choice.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      The Milgram experiment, to me, was a bit different because from the get go you could see stuff like “lethal shock” and the incremental damage the “teacher” would cause. This is not as clear in SotC, and some people only realized this towards the end. In SotC, the authority generates compliance by obfuscating what you’re doing instead of generating compliance through intimidation and perceived legitimacy as in the Milgram experiment.

      The only reason I didn’t stop playing was because I wanted to figure out what grand perfection people saw in the game. I wanted to play until I got to that point, but I never did (or, if I did, I never perceived it like others did). If I played completely isolated from outside information and information, I probably would’ve stopped around the third colossus or at most by when it was evident what Wander’s story entailed since I just wouldn’t have seen the point in torturing Wander further.

      I also find SotC distinct from the Prince of Persia example because quitting there came after a credits sequence, which I saw as a delineation of an “acceptable” ending. Stopping in SotC just feels like you paused a movie or put down a book and never came back, and I don’t think it’s the same as ending Wander’s story. Ending the meta-story about your experiences with the game perhaps, but not the game’s story itself.

      • Tempoz

        I don’t know. There just seem to be at least a few things in life (a few relationships come to mind) that are exactly like what you’re describing: Where I want desperately to carry something through to the finish – because I’m curious, and because quitting doesn’t feel satisfying. But I know it’s wrong to continue, and I have to just stop and not start it again, even though I could potentially continue it at any time. I, at least, find that analogue interesting, because it actually connects with my life in a way that saving the world or burning orphanages does not.
        Also notable, though, is that you’re not really morally culpable for what you do in a game EVER. I’ve always found this to be the most problematic part of a moral decision system in games. Whereas in real life, it would be wrong to continue, here you’re not really hurting anyone, and curiosity is a completely valid reason to keep going. I think the game’s true failing isn’t that you can’t feel guilty because you HAD to continue, but rather that you can’t feel guilty because you didn’t actually do anything wrong by continuing.
        And as far as the game’s story versus your meta-story, it seems that if you make choices that lead to an ending in a game, then that was the game’s story for you. Similarly, if you haven’t completed a game with multiple endings, the game’s story for you is not all the endings, but none of them (yet). And then if you never complete that game, it will remain none of them. The end was where you stopped playing. It is not clear to me that this is different simply because the game has one ending. If you never play it, then it doesn’t happen in that game-universe, and that is the game’s story that time.

        • Ramunas Jakimavicius

          While games don’t directly harm anyone based off of one’s in-game actions, I disagree with the sentiment that you aren’t morally culpable for what you do in games. To me, morality isn’t just about results, and I think intent has at least some factor in it all. You could, for instance, aim a gun without firing it and harming anyone, but you better believe people will think you’re doing something wrong nonetheless.

          Or we could go back to the Milgram experiment. The “learner” wasn’t really harmed, but I think some clear conclusions about how authority can influence complicity in morally questionable actions could be drawn from the experiment despite it being a “simulation”.

      • DanPrzyo

        ” If I played completely isolated from outside information and information, I probably would’ve stopped around the third colossus or at most by when it was evident what Wander’s story entailed since I just wouldn’t have seen the point in torturing Wander further.”
        C’mon!  Seriously?  You such strong feelings after 3 Colossi that you would have stopped playing?  Sure, I’ve heard of people getting bored of the game and quitting (and that I can understand without any gripe), but quitting a game based on moral principle?  I love this game to death, but dude, it’s a gaaaaaame!  I guess you’re coming from a level I can’t even understand!

    • Fernando Cordeiro

      That argument makes very little sense. In fact, it is something Ramunas defended in regards to the newest Prince of Persia (you didn’t have to save the Princess – you could turn the console off).

      But really, does not playing a game mean the Wanderer gave up his quest? Can I say Charles Kane hasn’t died because I stopped watching it after three seconds into the film? Can I say the Creature fails to kill Frankenstein at the end because I stopped reading the book?

      One’s experience with the story isn’t what constitutes the story, least to say the plot.

      There isn’t any difference to the Prince of Persia example either. Whether or not the saving of Elika came before or after the credits is irrelevant; or does old movie where the credits are screened before the film means any ending the viewer chooses is “acceptable”?

      • Tempoz

        Shadow of the Colossus is a game, not a movie or a book. The player makes choices that determine the story, it’s kind of the point of it being a game. So yes, the player’s experience with the story is the story in a game. Further, I am not saying you can imagine your own ending to Shadow of the Colossus and that that would be perfectly acceptable. I am saying that by never defeating the Colossi and turning off the game, that is an ending to the story. Or, if you refuse to accept that as an ending, you can always consider the case of Wander’s death. That is an ending to the game, though it is not generally considered to be a satisfying one. It is, however, another option to be contrasted with releasing an unknown evil into the world and corrupting yourself. Moral choices aren’t always obvious, and being a hero isn’t always fun and satisfying.

        • Fernando Cordeiro

          The player doesn’t determine the story.

          He can be given freedoms, yes, but his actions are still bound by what the programmer allows and the plot is still bound by what the writer wrote – you can’t, for example, choose to buy a gun and eat pasta in a Mario game. For all its choices, Commander Shepard can’t fly home to Earth. Yes, there are win and lose scenarios… the same way books have paragraphs and movies have editing. The inherent aspects of the medium does not invalidates the narrative.

          There is nothing about a game that can invalidate what constitutes story, plot and narrative. There can be games without those – the same way as movies and writings without narrative can also exist – but wearing the “game” label does not invalidates the plot in any way or form.

  5. For me, this game is about imagination. Sure, you have to follow a story arc that you really don’t want to because you know what’s coming. Though, it’s more than the fact that you have to, you get to make up your own story as to why. I’ve played this game through three times and I still don’t know the definitive reasons for why anyone in this game is here. I have my ideas, and I’ve read the ideas of others, but none of them are positive. This game, to me, is about the experience of making the story make sense to you. I hate people who say “If you didn’t like it, then you didn’t get it.”, and that’s not what I’m trying to convey. What I think when I read your review is: “if you didn’t like it, then the story you came up with while you were playing it wasn’t good enough for you.”

    Not liking Shadow of the Colossus is the same as not liking shadow puppets, or the shapes you see in clouds. It is what you think it is, and if you don’t think highly of it, then that’s perfectly fine.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      While SotC is most certainly open to interpretation, there are some constants. Any story that may be imagined, if reasonable, has to work around those constants. Some of the stuff I’ve read and some of the stuff I myself have pieced together could actually make for a good story. For instance, if Mono was a VIP and Wander failed at his job of guarding her, Wander trading his life for hers via Dormin’s power would make plenty of sense. But when the game plays sorrowful music every time a Colossus is killed, it feels like the developers are adamantly saying the player is doing a bad or wrong thing, even if a player’s interpretation says that it’s a noble sacrifice. That (among other things), just doesn’t allow me to craft a story that would’ve worked for me.

  6. Wally-G

    You make a good point, but the controls sucked- and that was enough for me to not bother with it. Ico was better than SOTC in my opinion.

  7. Ramunas Jakimavicius

    In case anyone is interested, there’s been a decent bit of discussion over on Reddit about this piece (in two different posts). N4G had many angry and tenacious comments that offered no refutation or little else than “lol fag” or “overrated? more like underrated, amirite?”, but I think at least the Reddit comments are worth a look.

  8. Pingback: Less is more: Fez’s subtractive design influenced by Ico | Nightmare Mode

  9. Reynaldo

    The sheer amount of thought and detail you have poured into writing this article, as well as the thought you’ve given to it validates it as a classic. Character choice would be great, yes, other paths when realizing how futile Wander’s quest is, would have been great.

    But, to this day, no media gives unlimited choice when experiencing it. Can Frodo Baggins stop in his tracks, yell ‘screw this’ and return to the Shire just by closing the book? Can you hold Michael’s murdering spree in his quest for power after the Don dies? No.

    SOTC gave me a role. A selfish one, yes. One that managed to turn me sad when pointlessly killing the colossi. Made me mournful yes, after Argo’s death. But this is the role of the story unfolding before me, guided by the linearity of the creator’s vision. I see nothing wrong with it.

    I just hope that future games will make me experience more of these feelings as the media becomes more mature.

    • The thought and detail poured into this article is what the site is about, not to mention how Ramunas approaches things! It being a classic or not has nothing to do with level of attention or analysis here. 😉

    • Humph09

      I agree, it’s a set of emotions you are clearly meant to experience. Not pleasant at times, the creatures by and large just want to get away.
      The clues are there all along, but you bought the game so you play it. Whether hoping for some sort of redemption or twist you carry on.
      Should you be given the choice to stop your wrongdoing? – no, that would deny every player a powerful experience if only because most people want to be the hero or at least be blameless in a tale which slaughters innocents.

  10. I finally got around to reading this. I have to say there is a great idea in here, comparing Shadow of the Colossus to the Milgrim Experiment, genius that was. However, I can’t get on board with anything else, not even that I disagree, but it’s full of logical fallacies only one of which I’ve seen brought up here. I could easily write a huge post just pointing out and explaining the errors here, but it’s late and I’m tired. I’ll list them instead.

    -Credits do not signify the end of a work, the end signifies the end of the work.
    -PoP fails at pretty much everything you claim Shadow of the Colossus to fail at. It’s one of the worst put together games of ’08.
    -The teachers in the Milgrim experiment could have stopped at any time, but for the most part didn’t. The differences in stakes does not absolve the similarity in action only the scale.
    -Wander is one of the more well defined characters because he does not speak or have cutscenes showing him doing stuff, but rather he is characterized through his verbs.
    -You are railroaded because Wander would do nothing else. That is who he is. The player is not the character. You interchange their positions several times.
    -Kraots and Wander are more alike than you think. It’s just Wander is more stripped down because there are no cutscenes or backstory.
    -The player can be attached to Mono in the same way players attach themselves to empty Shells like Samus or Gordon Freemon. They are representations of the dearly departed.
    -It is not about being with the girl, it is about sacrifice. This is a cursed land and Wander knows the stakes.
    -We can, but it is not necessary to sympathize with Wander, but to pity him.
    -Shadow of the Colossus is not a drama, it is classical tragedy. Use correct literary theory.
    -There is no message to Shadow of the Colossus. It is not an Aesop fable. It does not beat you over the head with a point. It has no summed up point.
    -Nice analogy of the house, but that is a deconstructionist’s job. To further the metaphor, you hire a wrecking crew to tear the house down and then you hire a construction crew to rebuild it. Reconstruction is the next artist’s job.
    -Deconstructionism makes its point through the tearing down of tropes and standards and then holding them up to the light. No comment need be or should be made. It’s the difference between Watchmen and Superhero movie.
    -Finally and this is unfortunate, because you based your whole argument on it, Shadow of the Colossus is not deconstructionism. It’s minimalism. They are close together on the artistic spectrum (If there is such a thing.) mainly because minimalism lead into the post-modernism movement where deconstructionism was born, but there are wide gaps of difference.

    And that’s only off the top of my head without explanations or evidence. I’d have to read it again a few more times and then go point by point. Not now though, maybe later.

    • Ramunas Jakimavicius

      – I find it ironic that you claim logical fallacies and then turn around and use a tautology. Those things are notoriously unhelpful, so I ask: What defines “the end”? Furthermore, the matter of choice I brought up wasn’t focusing on the end (as in, the ending that the developer holds as canonical and intended), it was talking about an end. I ultimately didn’t include something I thought about in this particular revision of the piece, but in the comments on Wave I mentioned both Redder (where you can quit while you’re ahead to counteract the damaging effects of obsession) and a suggestion for putting a branch in the story. Wander, I assume, justifies his actions by claiming it’s a self-sacrifice that he’s choosing to endure. My idea for a moral choice branch involved the “death” of Agro spurring an epiphany where Wander realizes that it’s not just him who suffers. From there, he ultimately would have to choose between grim determination to carry on his quest or leaving before even worse things happen. (If one wonders about the Colossi spirits already trapped inside of Wander or how Emon would still hunt Wander, I also offer the alternative of Wander plunging his sword into his body in order to expel the spirits and allow him to be with Mono in death.)

      Prince of Persia (2008) is indeed a bad game for some terrible design decisions and schizophrenic characterization. The overall quality of that game, however, is irrelevant to the point I was bringing (or wanted to bring) up. I never claimed that PoP was better, I just extracted one piece of it (that I happened to think was good) because I thought that piece (wherein both The Prince and Wander unleash a powerful spirit in order to save their love interest) related strongly.

      – I’m not exactly sure what you’re addressing your third point at. In any case, I think I covered my take on that in a previous comment.

      – I wonder what your connotation on “well-defined” is. What Wander strives for is indeed clear and well-defined, but I don’t see how that automatically raises him above being a flat character.

      – Wait, what? How can you say the player is not the character and then say they interchange roles? Regardless, Wander would be fine as a film character, but I don’t like him as a video game character because I kept thinking: “Why should I play his life?” The element of interactivity does not add anything to the character and only serves to frustrate me. Control over a character usually indicates at least some flexibility in how things are done if not necessarily in what things are done. I felt no flexibility whatsoever, and I was saddled with character I had no interest (and never developed any interest) in playing.

      – I also ultimately didn’t include this in the piece, but in earlier revisions I implied a connection between SotC and Jackson Pollock’s art (which I generally have a distaste for). Like Pollock’s work, some vague remnants of things could be interpreted as having depth, but I think a bit too much was left to the imagination in SotC. A few commentors made a strawman out of that by claiming I said I wanted everything explained to me, but they completely missed the nuance I was going for.

      – I considered commenting on this assertion in the piece as well, but I felt the context of SotC made the situation something I couldn’t quite relate to. Have I ever been in a situation where I had to perform self-sacrifice in the name of love? Yes, and I even faced consequences almost as extreme. Did my sacrifice entail stealing a sword and defeating colossal beings to appease a spiritual entity that could help me? No, and that’s one of the things that makes it difficult for me to empathize with Wander. He may have a realistic motive, but the hardships he faces are hyperbolic and too fictional to work as another other than a quaint metaphor.

      SotC might be about sacrifice, but sacrifice typically has a goal or purpose. My issue is why I should care about any of it. If the game was supposed to have me fill in Wander with myself and Mono with a lover who I was willing to sacrifice for, then I still think it fails for me because it did not reflect the experiences I had and the choices I made nor did it allow for any semblance of either to be expressed.

      – I don’t think SotC quite fits the mold of a classical tragedy. Yes, circumstances outside of Wander’s control invoke some tragic consequences, but I still think Wander’s quest was an overall success. IMO, God of War had much better examples of tragedy, such as where Kratos kills his family and the last Spartan, results he clearly didn’t want but that happened anyway. There’s also the matter that tragedy is defined as a variant of drama and that classical tragedy typically involves someone of high stature. We’re not given any indication that Wander was anyone important in his society. I’d even say it’s the opposite since other members saw fit to punish someone who flaunted the “rules” of that society.

      – I took the stance that SotC had some kind of message because it felt clear to me that ICO wasn’t a game just for the sake of being a game. I felt convinced that Team ICO had a reason for taking aspects that could be seen in a Legend of Zelda game and trying to make them more realistic for SotC. Also, I think the marked shift in tone from the music during boss battles to the music after them wasn’t an accident. I took it as implicit commentary from the developer.

      – There’s a nuance here too though. A wrecking crew is more mindless than a deconstructor. A wrecking crew doesn’t try to make any point. They’re just doing their job and could care less whether the destroyed thing is rebuilt better or worse later or just left ruined and vacant. To me, that outlook is closer to what parodists do. A deconstructor, by contrast, tries to make a point and encourages something that’s closer to an ideal they hold or at least something that’s less flawed. At least, that’s how I see it. My view of a deconstructor is one who paves the way for reconstruction, but your view seems to interpret such an author as just a wrecking crew. It’s a fundamental disagreement over definitions.

      – I find that hard to believe, because I feel a minimalist SotC wouldn’t have any explanatory cutscenes or emotion-evoking music. And I think it certainly wouldn’t have Emon mentioning how Wander was deceived by Dormin. It would just be Wander defeating the Colossi and letting the player decide what the hell happened and what it all means.

  11. Baron

    The title alone makes me want to ignore whatever it is you’ve written.

    It reminds me of IMDb, where you can’t visit any board without seeing tons of those ”worst/best ever” or ”this or that is overrated/underrated” threads. I can’t stand people who think their opinion is the standard.

    • It’s not about their opinion being the standard; it’s about a subjective comparison. If I think something is good but not great, and most people think it is the BEST THING EVER, then it is subjectively overrated. Few people subvert their tastes to the majority; he’s not going to say “I think it has problems, but I’m going to assume I’m wrong because most people like it!” What a boring discourse we would have then.

      • Baron

        Yeah, fair enough. I see your point. 🙂

    • killer115


  12. adrian

    love this game.

  13. Just so you know, I’ve yet to read this because I’ve yet to play ICO – I owned a copy but my crap PS2 wouldn’t read CD-based games so I could never play it. Waiting for the re-release to come down in price and/or my wallet to magically generate money; then I’ll get back to you.

  14. DanPrzyo

    Your thoughts are interesting, but I can’t sympathize with you.  I really don’t see your God of War distinction.  I understand there are differences in the story and thematic conclusion, but I don’t see how the player has any choice in deciding the conclusion of God of War.  All and all, you’re just rampaging for 3 titles until one bleak moment of sympathy (Krato’s suicide).
    The draw of SotC is in the atmosphere, the loneliness, desperation and sadness.  The conclusion take a bite out of you, just like any good tragic theme does.  It’s not Wander’s fault.  Romeo wasn’t any wiser!  It’s that very stubbornness that defines an epic tragedy.  It’s inevitability that makes the story even more mystical.
    I can’t sympathize with you just because you can’t accept the the premise of the game.  To halt the killing of the colossi is to go against the nature/motive of your character, which is clearly to resurrect Mono at any cost.  The mere fact that Wander’s ultimate demise isn’t the players decision — further aggravated by his stubbornness in contrast to the decision you may have personally made — doesn’t relieve the player of the weight of responsibility once you’ve simply accepted the premise of the game.  For me, accepting the character’s motive and sharing responsibility wasn’t difficult.  Wander is obviously on board, his trusty stead seems to have an uncanny awareness of the importance of it’s master’s quest, fate allowed Wander to steal the sacred sword, trespass on the forbidden land, endow him the with the strength to accomplish the impossible slayings and complete his tragic goal, for better or worse (who knows?).  The grand atmosphere and and Wander’s boldness is enough to push me forward to each new Colossi, and even though I feel the pang after each slaying, my emotional scales hang in a delicate balance that tips ever-so-slightly in  favor of seeing things through to the end (even if I did attempt to scale the castle and escape the forbidden lands by the bridge, only to be denied my exit by a divine wind at the gate).  It just wouldn’t be the same if Wander decided to call it quits, even if I were in his shoes.  As the player, I WANT the adventure.
    Lastly, I thought that your brief but sharp undertone of criticism toward the time trials and bonus items was a cheap cut.  Those additions were carefully added in a way that they would add to the replay of the game without influencing the main story in any way.  As a player, I appreciate the additional content, and that the creators were careful enough to preserve the integrity of the story.

  15. Epicmareep

    how wrong you are.

    • Reggie Anderson

      And yet you offer no actual points to back up your statement…

  16. John Chetwynd

    i personally just felt that much of the game was broken, in fact i never finished it, colossi four was just infuriating, the bastard just would drop his tail no matter what i did, and then after much frustration i left the controller on the sofa and ten minutes later he some how dropped his tail on his own, this made no sense. Also, at least half of this game consists of hitting them in the head, and then being thrown about, and then finding somewhere to rest, and repeat, id say that makes up about a quarter of the entire game time, boring shit, oh and the climbing was incredibly annoying and he never jumped where you wanted him too. TL;DR the only thing the game had going for it was a good idea and a mysterious aesthetic.

    • Jeremy

      Did you feel, as I did, that the controls and gameplay were a huge step back from ICO?

  17. Toast


    I thought the sympathy for Wander came from the inability to sway his mission. He has no choice and his resolve is set. This reflects on the player’s inability to change his destiny. In the end the game still gives you sense of control though you have none. Emon will draw the sword and place the seal. Wander will be pulled into the vortex no matter your input. And our greatest pity yet comes when he is transformed into an infant (and you can still control him even then).

  18. Connor

    You’d said that one of the predominate draws of a main character is an ability to feel sympathetic towrds them or pity them. While you may not have felt a significant connection, his exercise in futility resonates with may gamers. the tragic end to his story cemented that sympathy. Also using big words and bastardizing the results of studies and concepts doesn’t help you convey your opinion, it makes you look pretentious. This is an opinion piece, those are facts.

  19. slide

    i thoght it was asom but at the end i therw the contrioler and did not play agin for another year but now im playing agin

  20. cuncun

    Simplied magnificent, if you could understand this, you will understand the game.

  21. Aya

    This makes no sense whatsoever. To experience SotC you must know what loss is like and love feels like, you must put yourself in Wander’s place and take his mission as your own. You are THE Wander who fights the Colossi and you cannot change your eventual fate. Kratos and the Prince are able to take their fate into their hands, but Wander is not, he is going to fail whatever you like it or not. His humanity comes from the fact that he will fail no matter what. SotC is the definition of being human is: not being able to escape the end of your life.
    I agree that the game is not perfect nor it’s the only Art Game, but I don’t agree when you say that Wander is a bad character, because he is better than most characters nowadays. He has a strong determination to do what he must no matter his state.

    Wander is human in is struggle and that’s I connect to him.

  22. guest

    Thank you! A friend lent me this game saying that it was the best thing he’d ever played, so I was excited to try it. After beating it, I was extremely disappointed. I know video games can be art, (Silent Hill 2 is my favorite game, and my prime example) but this game left much to be desired. I’ve talked to people about my not liking it, and they just said “you didn’t get it”. I completely got “it”, but the fact of the matter was that “it” wasn’t good enough. After reading your article, I found that I agreed with everything you said. I’m very thankful of your writing this article. Good work.

  23. watermark0n

    The girl may not mean anything to you, but she clearly means something to Wander. Why does the game have to make you care about her to justify Wander’s attempts to save her? Are you the center of the universe? Wander has his own motivations as well.

    If the story disturbs you, there is one end to every video game story: walk away from the controller.

  24. Jeremy

    Good piece. But there are many more reasons why this game is over-rated. It’s sad that when people look back it’s SOTC, the masterpiece, with ICO thrown in, when it should be the other way around.

  25. Jim Dammers

    I don’t see why it should be such a big deal that the characters involved are unexplored.

    It’s meant to feel lonely, desperate and mysterious. When you let characters stare of into the distance in a cutscene as they go on and on about what kind of supper they had 13 years ago, you sacrifice all the atmosphere the environment and music achieved. While I didn’t know anything about Wander, I fully sympathized with his battle against the Colossi. I wasn’t fantasizing about what he had done or will do.. because I didn’t know anything but what he did right there and then. And so, I was right there with him, every step of the way. Heart pounding, and pouring in sweat. It wasn’t a ‘game’ or a ‘interactive story’. It was a honest to deity ‘experience’, and one I won’t soon forget.

    I personally hated God of War and Prince of Persia, fleshed out as the characters were. It was just another story presented in a very traditional way. And I think it’s a damn same that people demand every game story is told in such an obvious outlined way. How much do you know about a random person walking down the street? Nothing. Would you not care if they suddenly got hit by a car and found photos of family in his, her or their pocket? You don’t have to know the ins and outs about these people to sympathize with the lethal consequence, let alone with the notion that they’re in such pain they’re willing to defy death itself and sacrifice themselves to bring them back. You’re not supposed to think you ARE Wander. You are supposed to experience the events with him.

    I also don’t think he’s idiotic for continuing to fight the colossi. From the beginning he is clearly warned that the price for reanimating the dead is a high one, and he willingly agreed to it. Backing out halfway through because it becomes tough would’ve been a far worse story arc than him seeing it through. It cements that he cares so much for this girl that it makes the pain and corruption worth it. It’s really not difficult to find characterisation in his actions.

    Worst case scenario; he dies. At the very least he would have given his love a second chance.

  26. Poacher29

    This game is simply not for everyone. It’s a game that bases it’s feel off emotions that it creates for its players. The feeling of guilt, loneliness, regret, stubbornness, determination, etc. This game allows you to make of it what you wish, that is why people like it. If you don’t want to make much of it then don’t. If it was told straight out what the exact story line was and every detail was explained then the whole “art” concept would be taken from this game. The gameplay is great, the colossus are amazing, and the story is open ended. Though I do agree maybe a little more story line could have been fit in the game somewhere through the process of killing the colossi, but it may have given you too much insight to what was really going on. Art is something that is seen as beauty to some and nothing to others. That’s why it’s called art, and not fact.

  27. daze

    you are retarded, kill yourself

    • Reggie Anderson

      Congratulations on presenting yourself as arrogant, childish and immature.

      Go back to the kiddie-table while the adults are speaking.

  28. Reggie Anderson

    I am a little glad to know that I’m not the only one that thinks this game is vastly overrated.

    Aside from the story that seems ham-fisted and a little bit preachy, the thing that made me toss it in the “this is actually a bad game” category would be the game-breaking controls. If you’re spending more time fighting the controls than you are fighting the enemies you’re supposed to fight, it’s not a good game.

    Sure, it’s a stunningly beautiful world that is exquisitely done to elicit a great atmosphere… And I have to give the developers a huge amount of credit because this game is pure artistry from the minds of some rather brilliant artists… But again, a game is meant to be played, not fought against.

    What I will state that I cannot stand is how arrogant and confrontational some players will be when you dare challenge this game which they feel is the pinnacle of gaming. They are the kinds of people that really make this game seem way more poncy because it seems as if there’s this feeling that “if you don’t like my favourite game, you are not a true gamer.” Here’s a tip, save that arrogance for when you’re slamming back some PBR with your douche friends at the local coffee “haus.” If you want to know the truth, I love unusual and non-standard games when they’re done well. I fell in love with Journey (to the point of etching my skin with a tattoo of a glyph) I’ve adored every second of Enslaved (though I will admit I am a bit biased since I also like the story that it’s based on) and even play Katamari like a fiend. However I still cannot stand SotC because the immersion is broken whenever I try to play it because I seem to spend more time fighting the controls than the actual Colossi.

    So, Exquisitely beautiful, Hauntingly romantic in a tragic way but other than that, suffers from an inability to truly find myself attached to Wander or his quest and the game-breaking controls which shatter the immersion. Surely a game to reference when discussing gaming but not as the pinnacle of greatness that many people seem to feel it is.